Black Athletes: The Negro Leagues, Revisited

July 9, 2008

Growing up in the now-demolished Stateway Gardens housing project in the shadow of U.S. Cellular Field, Ronzelle Fort had no idea his old neighborhood was once home to one of the most significant events in the history of African-American baseball.
Fort and a group of his peers received the opportunity to learn about that history and take part in a piece of it in the first Double Duty Classic on Monday, which commemorated the 75th anniversary of the first East-West All-Star Game, an event that featured the best Negro League players and took place at old Comiskey Park.
The new event gets its name from the late Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe, who played for the Chicago American Giants.
“This is my first time finding out,” said Fort, who will be a junior at Harlan this fall. “It was nice learning about that.”

The players took part in a series of panel discussions that featured Negro League historians, Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, along with White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye, first-base coach Harold Baines and general manager Ken Williams. Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and former White Sox great and Negro League player Minnie Minoso also were on hand.
Among the topics were the significance of the event being commemorated and the role of the younger players in carrying on the tradition of African-Americans in baseball.
“[The East-West All-Star Game] was the Super Bowl, it was the Final Four, it was the Masters, it was the Grand Slam all rolled up into one,” said Larry Lester, one of the founders of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo.

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